You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at email@example.com.
This week’s question comes from Managing Editor, Cole Abaius:
I recently re-watched Ghostbusters for probably the 10th time in my life, and for the 10th time I loved it. There’s no question that it’s a fantastic, funny comedy, but there was always one scene that never worked for me. It kills an otherwise great moment. I’m talking, of course, about the scene where a ghost unzips Ray’s pants, and he giggles like a schoolgirl. Is it a dream? Does a ghost really fellate Ray? It’s unclear. But it’s clearly awful. It can’t be all bad, though, because it led me to this question: what’s a scene you hate from a movie you love?
First off, it’s clear Ray is getting a spectral hummer in that scene, but it probably just reminds you of something you saw your grandparents doing late one afternoon.
As to the question at hand, the movie that comes immediately to mind is Wet Hot American Summer. I love this movie with the heat of a thousand summer campfires, and I can’t go more than a minute or two without laughing aloud at the constant stream of jokes, gags, and expressions… Paul Rudd acting hilariously prickish, Christopher Meloni and his bottle of dick cream, Michael Showalter’s softball speech perfectly aping every underdog sports movie ever, a river raft rescue that we see only in the face of someone watching and describing the action, two characters in a panic inexplicably trashing an office, the exercise montage, the motorcycle chase and Joe Lo Truglio’s intentionally obvious stunt double, the afternoon in town that becomes a descent into drug-addled despair filled with coke, heroin, and muggings… the list goes on.
But there’s one scene that just brings the movie to a standstill every time I watch it. And it features Janeane Garofalo asking Marguerite Moreau how to be sexy. “I’d use a little mousse” says Moreau, to which Garofalo responds “Moose as in…” before feigning antlers on her head. It’s a short scene, but in a movie filled with gleefully stupid comedy it’s almost too moronic to bear. Luckily it’s followed by Rudd and Elizabeth Banks licking each others faces.
I tried to avoid going with specific ending choices made by a filmmaker that I didn’t particularly care for (such as the one-year later sequence at the end of Matchstick Men, or most especially the incredibly tacky twist at the end of Haute Tension which almost completely ruins the entire film), because it’s hard to completely dismiss an ending to a film without proposing an alternative to replace it which the question doesn’t ask to do.
So, a scene that always bothers me whenever I watch it and think it can be stricken from the film without the need of a replacement is from In America. It’s when Paddy Considine’s character, Johnny, is coming home from the hospital after hearing the hospital employee tell him that their check bounced (which he expected), and they have a massive bill accumulated from the birth of their new child, blood transfusion, and other complications that arose from the birth.
On his way up to their apartment he gets attacked by one of the other tenants, a man he’s somewhat on friendly terms with, because the guy needs money. Johnny wrestles the knife away from the guy and proceeds to somewhat scare him by screaming, then by whisper screaming into the guy’s face. The guy is, I presume, supposed to be high and the whisper scream which causes him to cower in the corner is to signify that, but it’s a really awkward moment that took me out of the film and seemed more harmful than helpful to the flow, especially in terms of how I felt emotionally going into that scene and what I felt after.
It may be an odd thing to get hung up on, but I never understood the absence of Principal Vernon through so much of The Breakfast Club after they went to so much trouble to paint him as such a relentless hardass.
I realize that John Hughes needed the time to develop the kids and create drama/connections between them, but his simply falling off the face of the earth bothers me more and more upon repeat viewings. Claire screams at Bender, Brian screams at Claire, Bender screams at everyone – all supposedly while the ever vigilant Vernon is sitting in an office next door to the library. Dance numbers, a fight, and weed smoke? He missed it all.
I absolutely love The Breakfast Club, and I believe it’s probably the defining film in the John Hughes’s catalogue, but he drops the ball on Vernon. Fella should have had more screen time, and a lot more situational awareness – amiright?
What scene would you cut from a movie you love?